Look contends that its bindings will improve the performance of any ski. And, like Rossignol, it believes in minimal boot-to-binding give. "As skiing gets more dynamic and laterally oriented," says product manager Tait Wardlaw, "a tight coupling is more important than ever. Shaped skis do better with a tight coupling, which gives you more intimate control of the skis' edges. Because we can dampen skis with plates, we don't need dampening in the coupling."
Look also prides itself on its lightweight Full Drive toe featuring a narrow profile, lateral and vertical elasticity, and most important, the strongest return-to-center capability on the market. Look engineers have developed a near foolproof anti-friction pad and a forward-load compensator. (Even if you drive your tips into a bump, for instance, which creates huge forward pressure on the boot, and the Look's lateral release qualities are not compromised.)
TX Sport $200
An attractive, basic binding with two-piece step-in heel for Newcomers and gentle Players. Look used this as a reference during our test. The coupling is comfortably direct, and at lighter speeds, comfortable. Beyond its speed threshold, it becomes harsh and chattery.
TX 8.0 Maxflex $325
Look calls this a "simpler, better plate system." It's also the lightest on the market. Mounted with two center screws and floating toggles at either end, there's a viscoelastic layer beneath the plate itself. It has 10 mm of lift at the toe and 12 under the two-piece heel, creating a slight ramp.
The Maxflex clearly smooths out the ski's ride, adds leverage, reduces the chances of boot-out, makes the ski less critical (less subject to small balancing errors), hold better and chatter less. Strong Players, Aspiring Carvers, All-Mountain Cruisers and Freeriders will find this to their liking, but should also look at the TT90 Maxflex.
TT 9.0 RL $350
A binding with a turntable heel, for Racers and All-Mountain Experts. This is the heel recommended by some orthopedists because the fulcrum of release is directly under the tibia. On the performance side, the heel's short mounting zone lets the ski flex deeply¿with no flat spot.
Like all Looks, the TT 9.O RL provides incredible performance at an affordable price. No heel is more satisfying (and reassuring) to step into. It makes the ski round and especially productive on hard snow. It can be purchased with or without a 10-mm lifter kit, which comes in two sections, one for the toe and one for the turntable.
TT90 Maxflex $350
Anyone who wants to arc the ski, from Aspiring Carver through Racers, might opt for the turntable heel featured in the TT90, despite the fact that Look targets this to "very high level skiers." It performs a touch better, in terms of feel, than the Maxflex with a two-piece heel.
The single-piece, 10-mm lifter invites effortless carving. The TT90 Maxflex is smoother, damper and stronger than its less-expensive counterpart. It seems to enlarge the ski's sweet spot and makes the ski more forgiving. Strongly recommended, despite the $25 added cost.